Donations to Sumter ministry help families who are 'stuck' move forward


I enjoy watching videos of people rescuing animals that are "stuck."

Recently, I saw a man rescue a bighorn sheep trapped in deep mud in Lake Mead by lassoing the animal's massive horns and pulling forward. The animal, despite all of its striving, was completely helpless when one simple act of compassion provided freedom.

In 2019, a client visited the Crisis Relief Ministry for financial assistance with an electric bill. After evaluating her circumstances and budget, the comments I wrote were "She is stuck!" She did not make enough income to break through and elevate her circumstances. We suggested a second ministry of Sumter United Ministries to her, the Education Assistance Ministry. This ministry exists to provide connection, resources and support to single parents that are working and attempting to gain a post-secondary diploma or certification.

Soon after, the client reached out to Heather Collins, administrator of the EAM. The client enrolled at Central Carolina Technical College in July 2020 and was quickly accepted into our program. Because of the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the classes were online and an access fee was required. The EAM paid this fee along with purchasing books. During a later semester, the EAM once again purchased books for the client and continued to provide resources where financial aid fell short.

This client continued to be an ideal placement. She responded each time she was asked and followed the program guidelines faithfully. She was all alone in Sumter. Her mother had died recently, and her father lived in another state. Sumter United Ministries was a vibrant part of her support and an encouraging voice to achieve her goals.

Later that semester, her apartment flooded and she was forced to vacate it until repairs could be completed. Once again, the Crisis Relief Ministry stepped in and provided a few nights in a hotel. When her vehicle needed tires, a Business Alliance partner supplied the assistance beyond what she was able to pay herself.

This client, a single mom of a teenage son with a long-time job at Prisma Health, dreams of completing a program in medical billing and coding and furthering her education into human resources. She is nearing her final semester. SUM was there in the beginning, throughout her educational pursuits, and we will be there as she completes her goals. Through all the pitfalls and challenges she faced, God has continually provided through generous people like you to enable us to keep her moving forward. A client that was "stuck" just a few years earlier has found that rope to pull her forward through the ministries of Sumter United Ministries.

Heather states: "I have been impressed that she was determined to finish. For instance, she tested positive for COVID-19 in the beginning, just as the semester started, and was advised by the school to postpone. No matter what she faced, she endured, and now, she can see the finish line and the hope of a brighter future."

Thank you for giving to Summer of Caring to ensure stories like this one continue!

Kevin Howell is the director of the Crisis Relief Ministry. Heather Collins is the administrator of the Education Assistance Ministry.

New donations as of Aug. 16: Ruth Heater, $200.